Cabbagetown Cares is an example how local communities are forming grassroots responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by mobilizing partnerships and resources to meet the needs of our most vulnerable communities. In this initiative St. Luke's United Church joins the Cabbagetown BIA and Dixon Hall to provide a free weekly hot meal in Allan Gardens.
The coronavirus pandemic is uprooting and upending all the known human conditions. And as has become so patently clear to everyone, there is a definitive divide on who is being the most affected. From all reports COVID-19 infections are disproportionately striking low-income neighbourhoods, and neighbourhoods with a higher percentage of black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC).
In Toronto’s downtown East side, neighbourhoods like Regent Park, Moss Park, Cabbagetown, St. Jamestown, and Church and Wellesley where there were already high levels of low-income people, homeless, those with complex health and mental health issues, and substance dependency issues, the pandemic and winter months have only exacerbated their daily lives. Access to food, shelter, and health services have been drastically affected. And While the City of Toronto has really expanded its response in this emergency, so too have private citizens and local businesses.
Cabbagetown, which is paradoxically a neighbourhood with a mix of both high-income and low-income people, has come together through the local BIA, St. Luke’s United Church, and Dixon Hall to create a lunch-give away in Allen Gardens. The program seeks to “provide 100 healthy, well-balanced lunches for our most vulnerable residents while also supporting our local small business community.”(https://www.cabbagetownto.com/cabbagetown-cares)
The initiative is funded by a collaboration of private and public donations; and was scheduled run every Thursday from January 21 to February 25th, 2021, although, because of its overwhelming success and need, the organizers are thinking of extending it. Participating member businesses include: Chew Chew’s Diner, Daniel et Daniel, Pho U, The Epicure Shop and Tim Hortons. Generous donations in support of this initiative are also being provided by DOVA Restaurant & Matt’s No Frills.
On February 11, 2021 when RPTV visited the sited, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam was also present as were the organizers Rev. Jim Keenan (St Luke’s United Church) and Rick Mathers (ED Cabbagetown BIA). Councillor Wong-Tam explained that the City of Toronto has increased funding and additional resources to community partners to expand their capacity to reach out to vulnerable communities. The Councillor also spoke about some of the long-term solutions that were in the progress to deal with homelessness, like building affordable housing, and providing the supports for people who cannot live independently; but need some type of assisted living.
Rev. Jim Keenan, who is perhaps the originator of the program, said he got the idea in December of 2020, and was then able to access a small grant and coupled some other donations was able to pay local businesses to provide the lunches.
Cabbagetown Cares is an example how
local communities are forming grassroots responses to the COVID-19
pandemic by mobilizing partnerships and resources to meet the needs
of our most vulnerable communities.
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